A Normal Friday Night

I thought it would be just a normal Friday night. Popped into Fred Meyer right after work to get something for dinner, then decided to leave because I could not find anything I wanted. I was in the store about 10 minutes. On the way in, I noticed one cop car at Starbucks. Nothing unusual, they could have been stopping in or checking something out. On my way out to my car I noticed more cop cars, sirens and more cops arriving by the minute and paused in the lobby to see what was going on. A Fred Meyer employee advised people to leave out of the opposite set of doors, or maybe not leave at all. I debated a minute about leaving but something told me I should stay put. I did not want to be that random dumb civilian who got caught in the cross-fire nor made the situation worse.

A few of us were milling out in the lobby seeing if it was safe for us to leave and wondering what was going on. I could see the cops moving around the Starbucks outside and I realized this was developing into something more serious. And then I heard what I thought be one shot. I could see at least two of the cops with guns drawn, one handgun and something that looked like a rifle. I still had no idea what was happening, except for guns drawn never means anything good.

I could feel the officers emotions skittering around trying to figure out what to do and how to contain the situation. I had no idea what the situation actually was. I am not generally a dramatic person so I am not entirely sure why I stayed out in the lobby, which was enclosed only in glass, rather than going into the store. I also think at that point Fred Meyer had locked the lobby doors that led to the outside. As I was watching, the door from Starbucks opened and the suspect came out, his back to the lobby area, gun drawn, feet planted, pointed straight at the cops. As things often do, time slowed down and that moment is forever crystallized in my mind. I can see him vividly in my mind and realized at that moment how incredibly serious the situation had become and I thought he was going to die.

There seemed to be the longest pause and then the “pop-pop-pop” of gunfire. I didn’t see the cops shoot him or what happened next. I had no desire to watch and I remember scrambling around a little bit and then thinking I should get down to make myself less of a target in the event bullets went astray as I had nothing between me and the situation but glass. Some people were hiding behind a large ice freezer and I think other people ran into the store. I remember the looks on the faces of the people hiding behind the freezer, basically frozen in terror, once the gunshots stopped. Everyone was asking everyone else if they were okay and I just wanted to get out of there.

I was thinking about what I would do if the cops hadn’t got the suspect or if he came in the store, where would be the best place to hide. I went all the way to the back of the store. The fear and the terror was a palpable feeling, not just from myself internally, but others too. I felt sick to my stomach and had no appetite by then. I figured the cops must have killed him or contained him because I didn’t hear any additional gunshots.

Within the next few minutes they put the store on lock-down and I was milling around with everyone else. Some people had no idea what happened, others made the comment about the police shooting someone and then I had some brief conversations with other folks about where they had been and what they experienced and what I experienced. Most people and employees had no idea what happened or why the store was on lock-down.

The lock-down did not last very long and they were letting out people out of the doors on the South side of the store. I walked all the way around the parking lot as the police taped off a good portion of it. Cops were everywhere, up and down 28th from Broadway to the Fred Meyer and of course my car was parked in the taped-off area. I saw the news crews and other people looking on. I ended up talking to one girl about what had happened as she lived in the area and I thought about how to get to my car and get home but I did not want to talk to anyone else about it. I wanted to get home and get out of there. Police officers were escorting people to their cars and I waited a few minutes for the cops to escort me over to my car and then I got out of there. There were a lot of emotions running through me at that time, but overall I was okay and things could have been much worse.

I found out the next day that the suspect was an armed fugitive wanted on a Federal warrant and that the FBI and the US Marshalls were there. This did not make me feel any better. I called the non-emergency line for the police to let them know I had been there in case they needed my information. I read they had taken witnesses on a Tri-met bus and talked to them and photographed them. When I went straight back into the store, my only thought was to get as far away from the scene as possible and so I never did talk to the cops.

I had been texting my brother and one of my co-workers because I thought someone needed to know where I was. I have no recollection of what I was texting and a lot of the moments were fuzzy in my mind. I ended up going to McDonald’s to get food and saw yet another unmarked cop car heading down Broadway to the scene. It is most likely the scariest thing I have experienced to date. My brother came home early to make sure I was okay and a friend came over and I gave them the story as I could remember it.

A shot of whiskey was in order after that experience so he went and got some Jameson, of course. I felt like crying, but didn’t and felt drained and exhausted. My brother and I stayed up late talking about it, I talked to my nephew and my other brother on the phone too. For me it was a matter of processing the emotions of being in the situation. I questioned whether or not I was actually or danger or if I was just making it more than it was. It very easily could have been much worse. I think we tend to do that when we are trying to make sense of something that seems so very senseless.

I am so grateful there was no loss of life and no one else was hurt but the suspect. What a crazy thing to have happened. I’ve been quiet about it because I did not want to sensationalize it anymore that it already was and I needed time to process and think about it. I had a very busy day Saturday and went to work as normal, just telling a few people what happened. I also called a small number of friends and family to let them know I had been there and was okay because I wanted them to hear it from me rather than from a post or something else. We had a holiday work party that night and I had another friends’ birthday party and I was just wiped out from the events of the past 24 hours. I didn’t get out of bed on Sunday until almost 11am.

I don’t feel more scared to go anywhere though I do get a little freaked out when I hear sirens because I now clearly realize what could be at stake. I can only begin to imagine a tiny little bit what the people involved in mass shootings might have felt, or the cops who were called in to handle the situation I found myself in might have felt. I thought about what would cause someone to be so desperate he would pull a gun on cops knowing what the outcome most likely would be and quite possibly could be his death. Lots and lots of thoughts. Even now it seems like I wasn’t there and it wasn’t real and it wasn’t me. But it was. And I was. For whatever reason.

It definitely took me a full day of rest yesterday to feel back to normal. I didn’t even leave the house. Not because I was scared, but I wanted one single day where I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. I watched football and movies and took it easy. I’m still thinking about what happened. I don’t know why I was there, maybe just simply a matter of wrong time, wrong place. One thing that is clear is that you don’t ever know. I could have left the store because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced and wanted to get on my way, but something told me to stay back. I am glad I listened to my intuition because I might have found myself in a much worse situation.

It's July 10th And I'm Still Eating Potato Salad...

All true and left-over from a July 4th celebration.  My grandma taught me and a party-goer requested the recipe and I thought, "Huh.  I don't have a recipe." And so I set out to re-create how I made the potato salad for this event.  Then I decided I would share it here on my blog.  What's for dinner tonight?  The last of the potato salad.  

1 dozen eggs
6-8 Russet Potatoes (6 if large, 8 if a few smaller potatoes)
Steinfeld’s baby dill pickles (I like 10-12)
Dijon mustard
Pickle juice (trust me - it works)
Salt (to taste) optional
Pepper (to taste) optional
Garlic salt or powder (to taste) optional
Celery salt (to taste) optional
Paprika (for garnishment) optional
-Put two large pans of water on the stove on high to bring to boil at the same time (one for eggs, one for potatoes)
-Wash and scrub potatoes
-Cut potatoes into chunks, skin on
-Put eggs in one pan carefully
-Put potato chunks in second pan
-Once eggs come to good, rolling boil, take them off the heat and cover, setting them aside to cook in the boiled water (a good 10-12 mins works, or until you are done boiling potatoes)
-Allow potato chunks to boil until soft, but not mealy (eggs should be good to go at this time)
-Take potatoes off heat and drain in a colander or whatever method works, allow them to cool
-Drain eggs, bathe eggs and allows them to sit in cold water
-Gently peel potato skins off the chunks (I like to use my hands but whatever works), the skins should come off fairly easily
-Put peeled potato chunks back in pan
-Take eggs out of cold water bath and peel one by one, putting in pan with peeled potatoes (if you can get them peeled by the membrane just inside the shell you will get a lot more egg)
-Mash potatoes and eggs together (I like to use a hand potato masher as you can control the size of the eggs and potatoes much better, but again, whatever works)
-At any point, dice the baby dill pickles (I am a horrible “dicer”, so I get them in irregular chunks close to the size)
-Throw pickles in with eggs and potatoes
-Add between 1 ½ to 2 cups of mayo to mix or as little or as much as you like (do start with a lesser amount and add to taste so you do not end up with too much mayo)
-Add between 2-3 tbsp of dijon mustard, or as little or as much as you like (follow same directions as mayo - start small)
-Add in a little pickle juice to cut the mayo and mustard, or none at all (again, start small as you do not want too much liquid)
-Add salt/pepper/garlic salt or powder to taste
*works best to make a day ahead for time to cool down and chill, taste again before serving and adjust mayo/mustard/pickle juice/spices if necessary, but even a few hours in the fridge will allow it to cool

Words In Me

At a young age they claimed me.  And I was forever gone.  Roaming the bookshelves in libraries.  Secreting away books too big and too long for me. I read them anyway.

I could learn anything, go anywhere, be anyone.  Still I remained me.  The same and yet a little different with every word I took in.  Hungering and thirsting, more, more, more! No book big enough.

Until one day I discovered I too had words in me.  And all the words I took in came pouring back out.  The same, but different.  In the coming of my own age I could tell my story to the spaces on my page.  No judgment, no remorse, only release.

A secret space reserved for me.  Freed to fly on wings of speech I said all the things I never could out loud. 

Astoria Review

I enjoyed this book, though the end seemed a bit abrupt and then here I was in the epilogue. I would have liked a little bit more of an ending, but otherwise, a very good read. I spent my first 8 years in Astoria and frequently go back as I still have family in the area. I learned a lot that I didn't know and confirmed some I had suspected. What strikes me most is how Astor simply decided he should be the one to build the "Western" empire. He laid it on the line financially, but nothing physically and then chastised his men for failing after they had been through such horrific experiences. That seems to be a consistent way with most of the richest people and those who specifically were involved in the start of our country, and most of those being white men. Though he started from not much, it does not seem he had any clear idea of the absolute difficulties they faced or maybe he figured if he did it, so should they be able to. I have no idea. I definitely would recommend this book if you like history and to learn more about the first American outpost on what is now the West Coast.




I Hate Mother's Day

It is true.  I hate the build-up, hate the commercials and hate the fact that is a multi-million dollar industry.  As if you could put a price tag on a mother's life.  I hold my breath waiting for the day to come and exhale when it is over.  Pick any other word: loathe, despise, abhor, detest.  I feel all of them.

I hate Mother's Day because it reminds me of what I have lost, my own mother.  On good days, I imagine us sitting on a beach in Ireland at sunset, wild horses racing back and forth on the narrow crescent of sand, my head on her shoulder, her arm around me, sitting up against an old log thrown up on the beach.  She lets me talk and talk and gives me advice and I feel stronger.  On bad days, in the dark I lay in my bed alone, silent tears slip down my cheeks and I wonder what I did to deserve this.    

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  She should have had more than 2 years with my nephew Connor, more than 6 years with my nephew Canaan, more than 19 years with my brother Benj, more than 30 years with my brother Jason.  And certainly more than 33 years with me. She will never get to know Audree, my little 3 year-old spitfire great-niece. Sometimes, like now, when I think about it, the tears well and I become overwhelmed with sadness.  

This is not a ploy for pity.  It is how it is.  Those of us who have lost our mothers know what this feels like.  Most days are good days, now, almost 14 years later, but still I cannot ask why for more than 2 seconds or I become quagmired in a question never to be answered.  I choose not to be stuck and move forward, though most times I am never sure of my place in this world.

Our mother equals our first home in this world.  And all of a sudden the ground beneath my home gave way and I started falling an endless fall into an abyss and I am not sure that fall will ever stop.  Perhaps most forms of grief are like this when you lose someone you love.  I wish I could go to lunch with her, buy her flowers, take a walk with her.  Some days I could really use her wisdom.  I would trade 10 years of my life for one more hug from her or one more day with her.  My rational mind knows it to be impossible but the child inside keens for her.

They say I will see her again.  Perhaps that is true, but fuck platitudes.  As if that is supposed to give some relief or some comfort that maybe someday, when I die, I will see her again.  It is what people say when they have no idea what to say.  And I don't blame them because it is hard to know what to say.  Most things come to an end, but this, for me, this will never end. I am glad Mother's Day is over for another year, because I hate it.